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  • January 01, 2021
  • 39 min to read

Top Alternatives to Lightroom (Windows, Mac)

Top Alternatives to Lightroom (Windows, Mac)

We thoroughly tested each program by editing the same set of photos to see how each program  edits. The programs all scored differently based on how intuitive the software's interface is. We also evaluated the photo organizing system to see how well the system helped us find and arrange our photos. 

1. Luminar (30 days trial)

Today, digital photography is experiencing a real boom.  Many years ago a lot of professionals only retouched pictures, now quality processing is available to almost all PC users. It is possible  thanks to the emergence of a mass of software for working with photos. This is primarily about simple graphics applications. One of these "light" photo editors is Luminar.

The program will help you easily perform professional photo editing. Powerful all-in-one photo editing tool includes many useful tools and versatile filters. The software product adapts to your style and skill level. You can use complex filters to make a photo better in various ways, or the way you think this photo should be. Choose from a variety of presets to start editing, or for a final solution, with one click. Be creative and learn how to work with photos, using Luminar.

 The first versions of the program were released exclusively for the Mac platform. However, the time requirements take their toll and in 2017 appeared a version for Windows. Program requests correspond to modern realities:

1) Mac OS (in all variants) and Windows 7, 8 and 10;
2) CPU Intel Core i5 and higher;
3) RAM at least 8 GB (and better - more);
4) HDD or SSD from 10 GB of free space;
5) Screen with a minimum resolution of 1280x768.

As you can see, the program does not require any extraordinary resources. 

2. Corel AfterShot Pro (30 days Free Trial)

Corel AfterShot Pro is used by professional photographers for fine-tuning images p. It includes a full range of tools for working with RAW files, including a converter to convert photos to other common formats. AfterShot Pro offers countless sliders for adjusting color, tone, exposure, lighting, and so on.

Another ​​application of Corel AfterShot Pro is digital noise reduction. Professional photographers know this program as an excellent noise suppressor with a lot of manual settings. Less advanced users will find the Perfect Clear tool handy. It removes various artifacts from a photo automatically with one click.

And that’s not all: Corel AfterShot Pro supports HDR (although it consumes lots of RAM), includes an SDK for cameras and plugins, and contains tools for profiling, removing stains, editing metadata, vignetting, and working with frames and watermarks. Frequently used functions and tools in Corel AfterShot Pro can be assigned to keys and key combinations. The program also has a cheaper lightweight edition without the Pro label.

All special offers  by Corel you can check -> here.

3. Photolemur (Free version with watermark)

Photolemur is the only one of its kind among graphic software. Its main talent is an artificial self-learning intelligence. According to the creators, it is a full-fledged "automatic" in the field of photo adjustment, the user’s participation in the process is minimal. In real work, it turns out that it is so. Although, of course, there are a number of nuances. But first things first.

The editor interface is minimalistic, and the whole process of photo processing comes down to a couple of button presses. After opening the photo, the program will offer to choose one of the ready-made processing styles. In the trial version you will find only 5 options for a general improvement with tinting in warmer or colder tones.

Also in the lower part of the window there is a scale that allows you to adjust the degree of impact of the adjustment on the original. It opens by clicking on the button with the image of a brush. At the beginning of this band there are two more settings that are responsible for the face retouching and eye treatment.

The main and only task of the editor is to work out a typical photo correction of the image:

 • work with RAW (more than 900 devices are supported);

 • adjust and improve the exposure;

 • color correction;

 • special algorithms for adding expressiveness to landscapes;

 • retouching portraits;

 • removal of artifacts from a photo and noise leveling;

 • balancing of light and shadow;

 • removal of fog, haze from the image.

All these actions are carried out using the built-in artificial intelligence, without any outside intervention. Moreover, as the developers claim, after each session of work Photolemur learns and, over time, will be able to create its own style, characteristic for a particular user.

The only thing that can be customized in Photolemur is saving. But even here everything is so simple that any person more or less familiar with the PC will figure it out in a couple of minutes.

All popular formats are involved - JPEG, PNG, TIFF, PSD, BMP, GIF. The software also offers the possibility of batch processing.

Photolemur is an ideal tool for the greenest beginners and users who don’t want to bother learning graphic applications, however with

pleasure involved in photography. In this regard, this is probably the best software for today. It is useful and advanced photographers, namely because of the convenient batch processing.

For simple, non-premium shots, its capabilities will suffice in most cases.

4. Capture One Pro (30 day free trial)

Capture One Pro is an advanced RAW image editor that allows the user to process photos on a professional level for an unattainable result in other editors. In this application is helped with advanced functionality, thanks to which the photographer or artist will be able to have a hand in setting the display of literally every pixel. Recently, the eleventh edition of Capture One Pro was published in Russian, in which the developers seriously revised many sections and options, making an even more powerful image editing product from their product. First, all processing is now carried out in layers: the layers can be adjusted for transparency, the Levels and Color Balance settings have been added to them, and the built-in styles and presets are now compatible with them. The interface from which the Local Adjustment item was removed has also changed, because now only the black and white tools, vignetting and film grain do not support the work in layers.

The option to correct the selected layer has been removed, so in order to affect it, it is now sufficient to use the automatically appeared brush icon. Adding transparency to layers fundamentally changes the work with RAW-images, since now this parameter can be set for each of the 16 available layers. In order to efficiently process a photo, you can use one of the following possibilities:

- adjusting the mask transparency with a brush and eraser;

- general transparency for each layer;

- creation of masks according to the selected color;

- filling, copying and inverting masks;

- tools “blur mask” and “refine mask”.

Photo editors will be pleased with the fact that all the functionality aimed at working with layers can be custom-linked to any hotkeys, which will significantly speed up the processing of files. No less convenient is the ability to leave notes for the retoucher using the Annotation option, instead of which one had to use Photoshop before. Additionally, you can check Capture One Pro options such as export to PSD layers, color measurement using the LAB system (rather than RGB or CMYK), duplicate checking during import, and an updated backup system.

5.  Exposure X6 (30-day trial)

Exposure X6 supports RAW format, allowing you to create high quality images and manage all stages of the workflow. Powerful organizational tools and an unparalleled creative editing approach make Exposure X6 a must-have application.

This software actually combines three programs and adds special effects that mimic real-life visual art. All three tools can work as standalone applications or as plugins to Lightroom and Photoshop.

One of the programs included in Exposure X6 is ASE, a professional editor that designed to emulate photographic film and provide great creative effects. More than 500 blanks emulate cult analog films, ranging from old to modern portrait films.

The Exposure X Bundle is a package of graphical plugin programs assembled in one shell.

A distinctive feature of ASE is that when working with different effects, it doesn’t increase the noise in the image, unlike many analogs.

In addition, some effects can be applied selectively (for example, to shadows, bright areas, or semi-tones) and not to the entire image. Alien Skin Exposure can work as separate software or as an add-on to Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Lightroom.

With Exposure X6, the Alien Skin developers have tried to make a universal program. In particular, there are flexible settings where you can adjust all the details. It works on both 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows.

6. ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate (Free Trial Available)

A major update has been released to ACDSee Photo Studio, a professional photo processing program. ACDSee Photo Studio is a complete software suite that includes all the necessary functionality for professional photo editing. It includes a full range of tools for processing photos and managing photo collections. ACDSee is a powerful tool comparable to Adobe Lightroom.

ACDSee Photo Studio 2021 is an annual update that includes a number of new features, improves many tools, and makes the program even more functional and convenient complex for processing photos.

As usual, ACDSee 2021 is available in three versions: Standard, Professional, and Ultimate. Standard is the basic version, which includes a standard set of photo processing functionality. The Professional version also includes support for RAW. The Ultimate version adds support for working with layers. Only the Standard version comes in a 32-bit version. 

7. Photo Lab (30 Day-Trial)

In fact, Photo Lab is a further development of the DxO Optics Pro program, but the changes that have accumulated over the years have allowed us to talk about a transition to a new quality level, which gave the package a new name. What makes Photo Lab different from competitors? First of all - the approach. Where the rest of the photo editors take on naked mathematics, DxO also uses the experience accumulated over the years of camera testing. Yes, the developers of this application are the laboratory that is responsible for the DxO Mark rating. It is not surprising that over the years of rigorous tests, they have accumulated a vast array of practical data on specific combinations of “camera - lens”, which the company calls “profile”. At the moment, the number of these profiles exceeds already 40,000, and it is this applied knowledge that helps the program to do what others cannot.

We will not go into particularly deep details now, just briefly mention a few special “items of pride” of the developers of Photo Lab. First and foremost, of course, this is their noise control algorithm, called PRIME denoising. Based on the knowledge of the specific features of the “noise” of specific cameras, it sometimes allows you to even draw out those images that are being passed on to Adobe solutions. The nice thing is that, in addition to quality, DxO do not forget to optimize it for speed. Another unique tool - DxO Smart Lighting, as it is easy to understand from the name, allows you to improve the situation with the light in the photo, but it does this also taking into account the features and profile, and the photo itself, which allows you to avoid increasing the noise level, “knocking out colors”, loss contrast and other problems of conventional solutions to the problem of illumination. DxO Clear View, which appeared several years ago, also effectively solves another widespread problem of landscape photos - haze. People living in mountainous terrain, regularly faced with the inability to make a beautiful photo due to the fact that distant objects are closed by this veil. DxO Clear View solved these problems, and this filter is more sensitive to colors than Dehaze in Lightroom. Naturally, I will not even go into detail in detail regarding the correction of geometric distortions and features of lenses, all this Optics Pro knew how many years ago.

What is new in the new version of the program? First, a sharpness module called the Lens Sharpness. It replaces the previous filter that was used by DxO before and ironically called Lens Softness (the old version said that the filter removes, now it adds). Based on the knowledge of the subject area, this adjustment allows one to overcome the “softness” of the lens and add to the objects in the photo. Particularly effectively, the filter works on noisy images shot at high ISO, although its usual positive effect is noticeable even on ordinary ones. Secondly, the Repair tool is noticeably reworked: the very “magic eraser” that allows you to remove wires, unnecessary people, dirt and many other useless phenomena from your photos. Preserving the previous simplicity, the new Repair has significantly improved the work algorithms, allowing to “remove” larger items without a trace.

And thirdly, the main Nik Software trick is integrated into Photo Lab - point settings. Those who have ever used Snapheal already understand the idea of ​​this tool. In short - you can set certain zones in the photo, and then change only some settings for them (brightness, contrast, exposure, and so on). There are several ways to set these same points: a brush that allows you to "draw" the area of ​​application of the correction, a gradient that allows you to make a correction, gradually "coming to naught". Control points define the circles in which the effect will be applied, with their help you can select areas where it will not be applied. The automatic mask is similar to a brush, but with the ability to take into account the boundaries of monochromatic sections, you roughly select the desired zones, the program takes over the rest. In general, the point settings are a really convenient and easy-to-learn tool that allows you to very quickly achieve the desired result. Its main strength is contextual, its settings are right next to the selected zone, which adds speed to the work and visibility of the result. By the way, if we talk about speed, then DxO Photo Lab is the fastest solution for photo processing, which will especially please those who don’t like to mess with digital negatives. The process of working with the program can be minimized. Immediately after choosing a photo, PhotoLab loads the desired profile and applies the default settings, and that’s where the main strength of the application consists - the “defaults” are very reasonable and their action resembles the “make OK".

In many cases, you can not even touch the rest of the settings, you just need to select the photos that you want to export, and click on the button. Of course, if you want to twist the settings with your hands - here DxO Photo Lab will also be more than appropariate, the interface is very convenient, everything is grouped logically and is a couple of clicks away.

DxO also offers two add-ons to Photo Lab, they exist as separate applications or as embedded modules of the main program. Film Pack is an incredibly scrupulous recreating effect of using various analogue photographic films and View Point, without any problems correcting any geometric distortions in the photo.

8. Affinity Photo (Free Trial)

The interface and all technological capabilities are developed in accordance with the precepts of Apple - the optimization is also polished. Everything flies with amazing speed and no freezes. It supports new functions: iCloud Drive is used, everything is rendered under Retina-resolution, DCI-P3 color space, API Metal 2 and even Force Touch are supported, recognition of pressing force on the trackpad.

Sometimes it seems that even Apple itself is not so meticulous in supporting its own chips.

It is possible to spend hundreds of pages on the description of pleasant trifles, without getting to the point.

Who can use Affinity Photo? Those who do not depend on Photoshop, but want for sane money to get a quality raster editor for image processing and creating graphics. Flexibility and abundance of opportunities, in theory, do not limit the professional needs of users. But the most likely audience of the program is ordinary users who need high-quality software not for commercial work.

The most unusual feature of work in Affinity Photo is the division of the processing process into persons. Each is responsible for its own set of functions and allows not to overload the interface. There are five of them: Photo, Develop, Liquify, Tone Mapping and Export.

In the person Photo, the basic elements of processing are collected - and you won’t be surprised by any user of graphic editors. Layers, masks, image correction tools: from exposure to working with colors in the HSL panel. It is also nice to work because even a hundred layers do not slow down the application.

For the processing of RAW files, the Develop person is useful - logically, it is more like Adobe Camera Raw.

It is worth noting. that almost all windows can be detached from the main “body” of the program and sent to float freely: a similar approach in Pixelmator.

Liquify is a person dedicated to correcting and imposing distortions, Tone Mapping activates HDR effects for image processing - most users won't spend too much time on them.

Another Affinity Photo feature is the Smart Assistant. With it, you can "program" the program to respond.

For example, if you apply a filter on a vector layer, the system will automatically translate it into a raster. And since this is all about it, Photo has full integration with Affinity's debut product, Designer vector editor.

You can easily insert objects from there and work with them on your images. And this is not a replacement for familiar macros - they can also be recorded.

If I continue to list the functions, then I will be put into the allowable amount of text and the level of my own competence.

Affinity products rely impressive manuals, which reveal all the possibilities. But the idea is that rarely you need to ask for reference information - it’s extremely easy to figure out everything yourself. And if you want to bring processing skills to a new level, then you can study advanced instructions.

The only drawback  Photo constantly have to be compared with Photoshop and Lightroom. But this is an undeserved Versus: programs are simply different.

The company Serif managed to resist the giants of Adobe, but the main thing - to win the confidence of various users.

Someone buys Photo, because once in a couple of months family photos are put in order, but there are also bold professional photographers who are ready to give up perennial habits. It still seems to me that more potential buyers come from the first category, but is this really a problem? If you set a goal, you can do almost any manipulation in the editor, although you have to learn.

Affinity Photo is still a young program that regularly receives major updates. But she has already reached the moment when serious shortcomings just do not come to mind. Developers offer a two-week trial, so try it yourself - if everything is fine, you can wave Adobe to farewell.

9. Zoner Photo Studio X (30 days free)

Zoner Photo Studio X, or ZPS X, is an intuitive and lightning -fast photo editor and organizer.

ZPS X is ideal for all photo manipulations, from downloading, organizing, and editing photos to creating photo souvenirs and sharing images. Everything is simple, fast, and in one place!

AUTOMATIC DOWNLOADING: Photos are downloaded to your computer within a few seconds. ZPS recognizes connected devices, distributes photos into folders, and automatically creates backup copies. Import runs in the background so you can edit photos while it’s happening. The program will help you even when scanning or receiving images in PDF format.

UNDERSTANDABLE ORGANIZATION: Sort your photos according to your preferences and view photos by location, date, keywords, or folders. It’s also easy to add descriptions, GPS coordinates, keywords, tags, ratings, and other metadata, especially when using bulk operations. 

NONDESTRUCTIVE EDITING: Improve the exposure and color settings in an image, align the horizon, trim and apply a gradient filter, and cancel or change all this at any time. 

Editing content is done in the Editor module. You’re only limited by your imagination. ZPS X lets you retouch, blend compositions, and use clever instruments to sharpen and remove haze, and frame photos.

10. RawTherapee (Free)

RawTherapee supports RAW files and is a great photo editor with a lot of functionality. It competes with Adobe Lightroom.

The editor interface is convenient, reminiscent of Windows Explorer. All the main editing elements are located in separate tabs on the right and on the main panel near the photo, and changes are immediately displayed.

In general, RawTherapee is a professional tool for working with photos. You can use it to create truly unique and highly artistic photos.

The main functionality of RawTherapee:

  • EAHD, HPHD, and VNG-4
  • algorithms for RAW image decoding
  • Support for 16-bit color depth
  • Viewing RGB channels
  • Auto exposure, contrast and brightness adjustments, curve editor, etc.
  • Setting white balance
  • Noise reduction
  • Arbitrary image rotation in any planes
  • JPEG support

The strategy to photography continues to be altered substantially by digital modern technology. Prior to, photo creating, digesting and publishing needs to be completed in a darkroom with the aid of diverse apparatus and substances. However right now, as a result of digital photography, article processing can be accomplished in your pc without the need for a darkroom and various chemical compounds. All that you should have can be a computer, notebook and enhancing application. As we all know, taking pictures utilizing a good electronic digital point and shoot or SLR camera can supply you with high quality pictures. But if you use modifying software, these pictures can still be further better and adjustments that properly suit your preference are still greatly achievable.

First of all, you want a well suited picture editing computer software to examine your photos over a notebook or laptop or computer. The application also allows you to arrange and label your photos easier. Document names could be personalized also by using this. Photo dimensions may be elevated or decreased from the software program. Generally, an image that got from the digital camera has a large dimensions. You’ll have the option of lowering the dimensions while using computer software; this is particularly required if you’re just keeping photos inside your laptop or computer or submitting them on the web. But if you want to produce your images, a sizable size is perfect. So utilizing the very same modifying computer software, the photos’ dimensions may be increased accordingly.

But the greatest thing about developing a picture editing and enhancing software package is the possibility to further improve the quality of the photo. The photo editor software from the finest video cameras out there might still require some great adjusting to obtain a perfect impression. By using a photo modifying application every piece of information might be adjusted to the choice. Exposure, temperatures, comparison, lighting, shows, hues, vibrancy, saturation, disturbance/grain, luminance and more may be lessened, increased or governed according to your preferred amounts. Altering a colored photograph to grayscale or sepia is also feasible. In addition, a few of the offered editing and enhancing application already have modifying presets which means that with only a just click of your computer mouse, a photo can be changed to black and white, sepia, great comparison, very low comparison, classic, vintage and the like. With these presets, there’s no requirement to adapt the image properties manually.

Imperfections can be taken off too. Encounter spots, reddish eyes along with other disruptions that really should not be in the photo might be eliminated while using cropping, spot removing and brush characteristics of the software program.

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